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Ashbourne, Derbyshire: Gateway to the Peak District

Updated: Feb 13, 2018

Ashbourne is a market town set in the picturesque Derbyshire Dales on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Its market has been running since the 1200s. The local church, St Oswald's was built in the 1240s, and stands as a prominent landmark in the town with its 212ft spire. This spire was described by the author George Eliot as "the finest single spire in England".

Ashbourne was home to a large Nestlé factory until the 2000s, which made Condensed Milk that was transported all over the country by a specially built railway. This railway line was closed in the 1960s and turned into the Tissington Trail. This walking trail is 13 miles long and is very popular with walkers and hikers due to the picturesque scenery it passes by. The trail is elevated along the old railway embankment, and so provides excellent views across the dales. It passes by Thorpe Cloud, a famous peak in the area that was a filming location for the 2010 Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe.

The town is famous across the UK due to its Royal Shrovetide Football Match held annually on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. This is a soccer match played by the whole of Ashbourne, using the town as the pitch. The residents are split into two teams, the Up'ards and the Down'ards. A goal is scored when somebody hits the ball against a purpose-built stone three times, and a game lasts for 8 hours on each day.

The Royal Shrovetide Football Match is notable in that it has been played since at least the 1100s. The 'Royal' part of the name has been included since 1928, when King Edward VIII, then the Prince of Wales, took part in the event and started the games. In 2003, Prince Charles started the game on a second Royal visit.

The Gingerbread Shop, which sells fantastic gingerbread, is set in a building built in 1492. Local legend states that the recipe for this gingerbread was given to an Ashbourne baker by a French prisoner of war during the Napoleonic Wars.

One of Ashbourne's most notable residents (aside from Tina's Traditional founder Tina Jesson, who was born in a nearby village and attended Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Ashbourne) is Catherine Booth, who co-founded The Salvation Army along with her husband, William Booth. Her birthplace is still standing, and marked with a placard.

In September 2018, Tina is organizing a tour including Derbyshire, the county in which she grew up, to give you a taste of authentic British countryside life. This tour will visit Ashbourne, where you will visit the Gingerbread Shop, go hunting for antiques and enjoy a pub lunch.

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